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Thursday , 5 August 2021

Alberta Government vaccinating meat-packing workers

Alberta’s government is trying to prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks in the meatpacking sector and will vaccinate workers at meat-packing plants provincewide.

According to a government news release, as of yesterday April 27, vaccines will be offered to more than 15,000 workers at 136 federal and provincial plants across the province.

Meat-packing plant workers were identified as an eligible group under Phase 2C, but delays in Alberta’s incoming vaccine supply delayed the start of this program until now.

“We continue to progress through Phase 2C of Alberta’s vaccine rollout as quickly as vaccine supply from the federal government allows,” Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta said. “I’m glad that we can now offer vaccines to protect these valued workers who contribute so much to Alberta’s and the entire country’s food supply system. As vaccine shipments continue to arrive, our focus will be getting those Albertans most at risk of severe outcomes vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

There are a total of 136 meat-packing plants in Alberta, including 18 federal facilities and 118 provincial plants.

“Health officials have long been working on plans to vaccinate workers at meat-packing plants,” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health said. “These workplaces have certainly borne their share of the burden of COVID-19, and I am relieved and pleased that we can now offer the vaccine to this next group in Phase 2C.”

The government says workers at federal meat-packing plants will be immunized using a combination of Primary Care Network clinics, public health clinics, or linkages to local pharmacies or AHS immunization sites. This includes the largest plants currently operating in the province: Olymel in Red Deer and Cargill in High River.

Once these clinics have been completed, any workers who have not been vaccinated will be provided with a letter from their employer that they can present at an AHS immunization clinic or pharmacy to receive the vaccine. They will also be able to use the AHS booking tool.

“Protecting workplaces where large outbreaks can happen quickly is critical,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health said. “Immunizing workers at meat-packing plants will go a long way to help keep these workers, their families, and communities safe. Immunization is key for Alberta to move forward past this pandemic.”

At provincial meat-packing plants, which are typically smaller, employers will receive a list of AHS clinics and pharmacies in their area and a letter that their employees can use to establish their eligibility to be immunized.

As well, the Cargill plant at High River will also be the focus of a pilot clinic led by a team of researchers from the University of Calgary. This clinic will address vaccine hesitancy by providing translated materials and on-site translators at the plant.

More than 2.3 million Albertans are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. As of April 25, 1,419,188 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta.

Expanding eligibility for Albertans with underlying conditions

Alberta is also expanding those eligible under Phase 2B of the vaccine rollout. Youth born between 2006 and 2009 with underlying health conditions are now eligible to book appointments for their COVID-19 vaccine. A doctor’s note is required to book an appointment with participating pharmacies and AHS.

The government says “Alberta’s decision to reduce the age of eligibility is based on emerging research showing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in this age group and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendation for the Pfizer vaccine.”

For additional information visit alberta.ca.

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About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!